Unpacking UITP 2023: A Glimpse into the Future of Public Transport

19/6/23, 1:00 pm

The NEC Smart Transportation team recently packed their bags for the UITP Global Transportation Summit in Barcelona to showcase and demonstrate NEC’s market-leading expertise. Here NEC’s Mark Messenger Head of Global Ticketing & MaaS Solutions shares his top take-aways from the world’s biggest transportation event and how that will impact the way citizens travel in the future.

Last week, I joined the NEC Smart Transport global team at UITP 2023 in Barcelona. Returning to the UITP summit after over eight years, I was struck by the significant evolution in the public transport sector.

Sustainability at the Forefront

Sustainability was a key theme at UITP 2023. The industry's commitment to reducing carbon emissions was clear, with a focus on electric and low emission vehicles. The path to decarbonisation is complex, but the sector is making strides to meet this challenge and the variety and range of technology available was impressive.

The Power of Data and AI

Data has become an essential part of public transport operators toolchests. The use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning for safety, security, and predictive analysis was also becoming more evident. These technologies are not just enhancing operational efficiency but are also playing a pivotal role in improving passenger safety and personalising the user experience.

Open Payments: Simplifying Travel

Open payments in transit ticketing were another notable trend. The industry is moving towards more seamless travel experiences, with open payment systems playing a significant role, there was significant conversation about the transformative impact Open Payments is having.

Autonomous Vehicles: A Glimpse into the Future

The presence of autonomous vehicles at UITP 2023 was noteworthy. The displays of autonomous microbuses indicated the industry's readiness to embrace this emerging technology.

Focusing on the Passenger Journey

The final and most important takeaway for me was the increasing importance of the passenger journey in the discussions, with an emphasis on making transit accessible and safe for all. From the first mile to the last, from ticketing to on-board experience, every aspect of the journey is being scrutinised and optimised to enhance passenger satisfaction.

This focus extends to rural areas, which have often been underserved by public transport. Improving rural connectivity is becoming a priority. By enhancing rural transport, we can make these areas more sustainable. Innovative solutions, such as on-demand bus services and shared mobility options, are being explored to meet the unique needs of rural communities.


For me, UITP 2023 showcased the public transport sector's proactive approach to change. The industry is moving towards a sustainable, data-driven future, with a strong focus on enhancing the passenger experience in both urban and rural areas. As part of the NEC Smart Transport team, I'm looking forward to contributing to this transformation.

NEC Smart Transportation